Updated: 24 February 2023 & medically reviewed by Dr. Kimberly Langdon
Step 8 of Alcoholics Anonymous can be particularly difficult for many as it asks the participant to shift focus away from themselves and look to how their alcohol abuse has affected those around them.
In step 8, participants are asked to create a list of all the people their alcohol abuse has hurt. This may be family members, friends, partners, colleagues, and just about anyone who has been affected by their drinking.
While step 8 is challenging and forces the participant to face their wrongdoings head-on, it is an incredibly powerful and important step in the AA process.
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What is the 8th Step of AA?
Reaching step 8 of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a huge accomplishment, one which requires those participating to learn humility and to begin to take account of their character and how alcohol has affected their lives and those around them.
Step 8 takes all the knowledge learned so far and puts it to the test, which for most proves to be one of the most daunting and challenging aspects of alcoholism recovery. In step 8, participants are asked to create a list of all the people their alcohol abuse has hurt. This may be family members, friends, partners, colleagues, and just about anyone who has been affected by their drinking.
Facing the truth of how your alcoholism has hurt others around you can be an incredibly emotional and painful process, one which often takes a lot of courage and support to get through.
Tips for completing Step 8 of AA
While step 8 is challenging and forces the participant to face their wrongdoings head-on, it is an incredibly powerful and important step in the AA process. The process of admitting the wrongs you have done and the people you have hurt is tough, but there are some tips that can help.
Speak to someone
The sponsor system is one of the core components of AA, creating a network of members in different stages of recovery who are available to help one another. Speaking to your sponsor about the struggles you’re facing while making your list can allow them to share their own experiences. This process should make you feel less alone and put you at ease when making your list.
Take your time
AA is not a sprint and there is no expectation that a person should finish all 12 Steps in an allotted time. Each step is intended to allow for self-reflection, and step 8 is arguably the most important period of reflection through the whole process. Take your time to really evaluate your past actions and don’t let them become overwhelming.
As step 8 is often the most challenging step of the journey, it is also the period where AA members come closest to relapse. Looking at negative behavior from one’s past is not a pleasant experience for anyone and for those who are powerless to alcohol can often feel temptation to seek relief in their addiction. Recognizing that you are feeling tempted to drink as a reflex to behavioral impulse when writing your list can help avoid it. If you are feeling tempted to drink, contact your sponsor counselor.
Get additional support
While it is recommended that those going through AA seek outside help from the start, many attempt to go through the steps alone. By getting help from counselors, therapists, and other external support groups you can build a network that can be a lifeline when facing the tougher aspects of the AA 12 steps.